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I know I can be an instigator, so forgive me Powerpoint fans. The other day I tweeted 'Death by Powerpoint.' I received quite a few comments/emails about this.

I am curious if anyone else feels this way when You get invited to a webinar/presentation/educational session:
  • You start to sink down slowly in your chair as you anticipate what is most likely to be a Powerpoint presentation.
  • You think to yourself:
    • "I wonder how many slides there are?"
    • And, "Why is this person reading off of the slide?"
    • "Why couldn't I just ask for a copy of the presentation so that I can read it myself... oh wait, here's a copy of it in my packet. I wonder if they would notice if I got up and snuck out".
It's the predictably linear barrage of bullet points and 'cool' slide transitions. In most cases, these presentations are a slow painful torturous event to me. The latest buzzword is 'engagement' (I wish I had the forethought to count how many times I heard that word at the last conference I attended on Social Networking) but we continue to use tools that are far from engaging. But, for lack of a better word it's important to emphasize that people do not wish to be sold to, they wish to be engaged or entertained.

Setting aside my creedo that enthusiasm is the number one ingredient for success in anything, I urge others to consider that in this day of exciting innovation, I believe it is time that Marketers, Salespersons and Presenters rethink the tools they use to portray themselves and their companies. Please don't get me wrong, Powerpoint is fine if it is done well and I have seen some great uses of it. Additionally, kudos to Microsoft for creating an incredible monopoly on presentation tools (among other things) for decades. Even the imitators of Powerpoint (Open Office Impress, Google Docs Presentation, Apple's Keynote, etc.) are so impressed with Powerpoint that they failed to innovate. But, as technology evolves and we enter the world of Webcasts and Webinars, I think it is time for Marketers, Salespersons and Presenters to move on.

Last week I was a presenter at Quantum's software conference in Reno, Nevada. I did not use Powerpoint and frankly it was probably the major contributing factor towards my presentation being a success. I used a great alternative called Prezi (www.prezi.com). For those of you who frequently do webcasts or webinars, I recommend that you take a look. It's only as linear as you want it to be and has a very simple but cool feel. What's special about it is the whiteboard-like layout and how it zooms, twists and turns as you navigate. While there are some minor drawbacks (word of caution: it makes some people dizzy), I guarantee that it will set you apart from your competition. Another great option is SellFolio (www.sellfolio.com - email me if you want a coupon code for a free formpack). This is another flash-based program that has been around for several years now. While it does have some linnear aspects and major customization of templates is limited, it's perfect for making a very high multimedia impact on your prospects/clients/audience.

If you must use Powerpoint for a webcast, please work on making it more interesting by not reading your slides! Also, you might consider playing with a cool tool that I found called 'Screenmarker.' It's a free program (www.screenmarker.com) that enables you to pretend like you are John Madden. Basically, you can draw on your presentation (or anything for that matter) to illustrate a point.

Presentations are not just an opportunity for you to show what you've got, but rather an opportunity to appeal to ones senses and emotions. It's been proven scientifically that people learn better when given visual stimulation. Why use a stale medium? Powerpoint is coloring within the lines... it's time to start coloring OUTSIDE the lines.

Views: 105

Comment by Tara "the Print-cess" Wagner on May 17, 2010 at 11:23am
Thanks for the great suggestions. I am not a huge fan of Powerpoint in the workplace - It always brings me back to droningly dull college class days. :)
Comment by Mardra Sikora on June 2, 2010 at 5:39pm
Great info - thank you for sharing this.
Comment by Dan Goldstein on June 23, 2010 at 4:26pm
i agree with the bent of this subject matter. However, I strongly feel that unless you're a designer, you'd aught to find someone to put together the presentation visuals for you. PowerPoint, Flash, Video, sketch on paper, whatever the format, if your content is boring, not well written (call a writer), and your layout is either too simplistic or you decided to use every transition in the program with those stupid included audio clips, it wouldn't matter what you use - your presentation will be a bomb. Then again, I guess it depends on the expectations of your audience.

To some extent, a lot of people have become desensitized to all of the flashy stuff and just want simple and to the point with some good flow - unless it's really well done, remember Balthaser Studios?.

To summarize, if you're not trained or naturally gifted as a graphic designer, artist, story boarder or equivalent, GET HELP!
Comment by Jon Eric Sooy on June 28, 2010 at 10:59am
Great point Dan... I agree with you completely. If you are not equipped to do basic page layout, you probably shouldn't be designing your own presentations.
Comment by Rebecca Mulkey on June 14, 2012 at 11:47am

I would have to agree with your opinion on Powerpoint- I feel it's no better than reading from a textbook (especially when the presenters don't have bullet points, but sentences.) The only downside to Prezi is that you're very limited on themes, which can make it difficult to create completely unique presentations.

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